Though composer Douglas Pipes was (most deservingly) nominated for a Saturn Award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films as well as a World Soundtrack Award for his work on the 2006 animated film Monster House, his work on the horror anthology Trick ‘r Treat (a film that sat on the shelf for two years before being released straight to DVD yesterday) is only his second feature length score. But with only these two scores under his belt, he’s already being noticed, most importantly by Trick ‘r Treat writer/director Michael Dougherty. Dougherty was taken with his work from the first time he heard it in Monster House: “I’ll never forget watching that movie, bobbing my head to the music and thinking to myself ‘Holy crap, who IS this guy?!'” Dougherty wasted no time finding out who Douglas Pipes was and tapped him to score his directorial debut. And from the tracks included on the score that La-La Land Records has released, it’s clear that the two are a dynamic horror duo. It’s even clearer, listening to Pipes gush over Dougherty in return: “Michael’s enthusiasm for my music and great instincts really helped in creating this score.”

The film itself is a little-known horror treat (already generating internet buzz) starring Brian Cox, Anna Paquin, and Dylan Baker. It’s a bit of a tongue-in-cheek love letter to horror anthologies, following a loosely connected series of stories all occurring in one night. Pipes’ score captures (and, in fact, helps to create) the atmosphere of the film perfectly. With a playful (and recognizable) theme running throughout the score – beginning in “Main Titles,” the opening track, Pipes keeps the thrills and the knowing nods in line with his music. Imagine the old repetitively annoying song “trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat…” recast as the creepy oft-recurring theme of a horror movie. That’s what Pipes does here, and after listening to it, it’s actually a shocker that no one has used it before.

With a full orchestra at his disposal, he doesn’t hesitate to put them all to work. Like Christopher Young’s work on Drag Me To Hell, Pipes is showcasing his talent and driving the full-bodied horror score into the moviegoer’s eager ears. Throughout the hour-long album, Pipes offers up little tidbits of surprises, providing a thrilling (but non-gimmicky) horror score.   Whether it’s the pounding opening notes of the 12-minute “Pumpkin Shooter/Meet Sam” leading into a drawn out and suspenseful few minutes of slowly building terror or the delicate piano piece that is the centerpiece of the gothic love track “Laurie’s First Time” there’s something that stands out in each track.

For those listeners knocking on Douglas Pipes’ door this Halloween, expect a treat.

Zach’s Rating: A-
Perfect For: Creepy background music while waiting for trick ‘r treaters on Halloween
Stay Away if: You’re looking for a dramatic horror score

To purchase the score for Trick ‘R Treat, visit Amazon

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